Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

Batman: Under the Red HoodI've liked most of the DC's recent forays into animation on varying levels, but none of them really hit the mark for me. The scripts in those other titles just weren't good enough and brought the entire production down. Many of them had excellent voice actors and animation, but that couldn't save a poor script.

Batman: Under the Red Hood is different.

Managing to cram five different arcs from the comics into a movie just under 90 minutes is impressive. Managing to do that and keep the entire thing remarkably faithful and have it turn out well is on another level.

The movie starts off with the final moments of the comic arc 'Death in the Family' featured in Batman #426-429, where the Joker sadistically kills Jason Todd aka the second Robin. This scene isn't extremely graphic and most of the violence is kept off screen, but as other reviewers have warned please take the PG-13 rating seriously. From there the story jumps forward five years and compresses Batman #635-650, taking bits and pieces from all four story arcs, to form the rest of the movie. Yes, there are changes. Some are large, including writing out Superboy Prime's role (which is a very very good thing). Others are smaller, from leaving out certain characters and subplots to changing how the Red Hood gets a hold of the Joker. None of these truly matter, as the heart of the story has been distilled and streamlined in a very faithful way.

So faithful are they that some of the dialogue is taken straight out of the comics, including the finale. This is how comic adaptations should be done.

For the most part the cast is excellent, though there will be fans that are disgruntled over fan favorites Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill not contributing. They've defined their respective characters for so long that many, including myself, have a hard time accepting new voice actors in their stead. Bruce Greenwood proved a lot of people wrong though, and I could see him voicing Batman from here on out.

John DiMaggio had the biggest shoes to fill though, and didn't quite do it for me. His Joker was a cross between Ledger's movie portrayal and Hamill's animation counterpart, and while not bad by any means, just didn't sound right to me. It didn't help that I kept hearing Bender from Futurama, either. The laugh was almost perfect, but his speaking voice was just...too husky. This is absolutely going to be up to individual preference though. His line delivery is excellent and there's nothing wrong with his performance. I'm just too used to Hamill, I guess.

The rest of the cast is spot on and practically a dream cast. Neil Patrick Harris is great as the light hearted, cracking wise Nightwing. Jensen Ackles is given the difficult task of voicing a character that covers the entire emotional spectrum during the course of the movie, and does it well. Jason Isaacs is by far the best Ra's al Ghul we've had. But my personal favorite has to be Wade Williams as Black Mask. He IS that character for me now.

Batman: Under the Red Hood is easily on par with Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, that other excellent animated film. It very well may end up being better after additional viewings if I can put Hamill as the Joker behind me. I really hope this is a sign of things to come from DC's animation division.

I was prepared to dislike the new DC direct-to-dvd animated film, Batman: Under the Red Hood. I've been annoyed with these animated films for a number of reasons, some admittedly nitpicky and petty, but annoyances just the same. However, after watching a review copy I was quite pleased with the way it worked out! Having read the original story arc in the comics, I wondered how they were going to take such a complex tale, one that draws on various Batman stories going as far back as 1951, and roll it all up into a neat little self-contained package lasting under an hour and 20 minutes (short running time--another gripe of mine). The answer is, quite deftly!

The story has to do with the Batman's greatest failure, the sadistic, violent death of the second Robin, Jason Todd, at the hands of the Joker, who began his career as a masked criminal known as the Red Hood, which is established in short, succinct flashbacks. The story begins five years after the death of Jason Todd and involves a criminal turf war between the Black Mask, an aggressive and entrepreneurial mob boss who wears a black skull mask, and a new masked criminal--a new Red Hood. This new Red Hood is trying to clean up Gotham by controlling the gangs, and his methods are violent, ruthless, and murderous, and thus he comes to the attention of the Batman. A showdown is inevitable, but who's manipulating who, how will the Black Mask react, and what role does the volatile Joker play in the plan?

The story is action-packed, very dark, and should make casual viewers and fans quite happy. Some gripes; Bruce Greenwood and John DiMaggio turn in terrific jobs as the Batman and the Joker, respectively, but I really wish they would have gotten Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to play the parts. Those two actors are so well associated with the roles and it would have been quite interesting to see how they would have handled such a dark and violent story. Sometimes the violence is kept to a nil when it should be amped up. For example, the death of Jason Todd is fairly unbelievable; the Joker spends a good deal of time beating him with a crowbar, yet afterwards he looks only as though he fell down and scraped himself up a little. The comic book story, A Death In the Family, regulated by the Comics Code Authority no less, showed blood, bruising, swelling, a shredded costume, and made him look more than half dead. The movie fails to convey this, and when they're dealing with a PG-13 rating they could certainly have done better.

Another big problem I have with this film, and the DC direct-to-dvd movies in general, is the short running time. Again, with a PG-13 rating and such dark and complex stories, it's more than obvious that the intended audience is NOT young children and pre-teens, but rather an older, more mature audience. So why the short running times geared towards the short attention spans of young children?! This film runs one hour and 15 minutes. The last film, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, ran only one hour and 13 minutes. Please, DC, PLEASE--know your audience and realize that the vast majority of people purchasing these films are adults who can keep track of sophisticated plots, complex character development, and running times that are closer to those of adult movies--an hour and a half to two hours! If you did that, you could do so much more with these animated films.

Depsite my gripes, I have to give this movie four out of five stars. It was very entertaining, with lots of action and some seriously twisted moments from both the Joker and the Black Mask. Parents, please take note from a fellow parent: just because this is an animated film, that does not mean it is suitable for young children. Please take the PG-13 rating seriously.

Buy Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) Now

Just watched it today, I had to comment about it. People always complain about the voice actors...the cast did great..Batman, Nightwing, RED HOOD..they all sounded great.I'm not going to comment on Joker's voice, instead I will praise his animation...Joker looked GREAT. The movie is much adult oriented this time, ..good. I can't recommend it enough..great moments, shocking and touching at the same time. the final battle, the final scene..the intro music, which is the same played at the end could be used for a live action movie. I want to see more of the guy behind the red hood...

SPOILER ALERT; Remember what Joker does with a pencil in THE DARK KNIGHT? this movie and see what he does..with a glass..and be surprised like I was.....ENJOY IT for what it is, a dark, violent, good BATMAN story.

I would love to see the Killing joke....

Read Best Reviews of Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) Here

The raw emotions that you will feel after watching this film make it worth the price tag. Even if you are not a fan of the series this dark and complex story will leave you wanting more. I am not going to spoil the story like some of these reviewers did. Just buy it.

Want Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) Discount?

This movie was great. It was jam packed with action, drama and suspense.This movie brings me back to the days where I would watch Batman Beyond or the first animated Batman series that used to air on Cartoon Network.

To put it short, this movie is amazing because it has a(n):

1)Amazing plot, with an ending that will keep glued to your seat

2)a mature feel, although it's a cartoon the movie is made more enjoyable by making it a little more realistic with scenes of Batman getting whooped and occasional blood.

3)great dialogue, the characters stay true to Batman tradition

4)art style, the art style isn't too flashy with effects and gives the movie a dark/noire feeling.

Get this movie. There is no way you can be dissappointed. A great movie topped with great Amazon service. You can't beat that.

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